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With digitalisation accelerating more quickly than any other time as a result of the pandemic, the demand for software developers has risen as well. In fact, demand for programmers and other technical roles has remained strong throughout the pandemic, salaries in places such as the Silicon valley rising faster than inflation. According to App Developer Magazine, the unemployment rate in the U.S. tech sector was just 3%, compared with 6.7% for the overall U.S. economy.

So with demand unabated during the pandemic, companies vying for software developers face challenges even as they ramp up their own digitalisation transformation. Employers regardless of sector are all competing for the same skills. This means, more than ever, companies need an attraction and engagement strategy that will lead to the best developer candidates. 

The right approach begins with a compelling employee value proposition, identifying the channels to create the most impact with developers and a robust engagement plan for getting their attention. When all of these elements come together, acquiring the right developer talent is easier than you think. But how can you get started?

create a compelling EVP

For many companies, creating a compelling employee value proposition is an exercise that may have already undertaken when developing their employer brand. To attract software developers, however, may require a re-examination of what these workers generally look for in an ideal employer. Start by considering the job benefits they desire most. 

According to a survey of more than 70,000 developers conducted by technical skills assessment provider HackerRank, access to professional growth and learning is the most desired quality these workers look for in an employer, followed by a good work-life balance and then competitive compensation. According to HackerRank, programmers are mostly “voracious” learners who understand that the fast-pace of change in the technology field requires that they maintain a steady diet of learning and upskilling to remain marketable and in demand in the labor market.

With compensation ranked third, this is decidedly distinct from most workers in other fields. The global Randstad Employer Brand Research shows that among 185,000 working-age adults surveyed in 33 markets across all sectors, good compensation is perennially the most important quality they desire in an employer.  

HackerRank in its '2020 Developer Skills Report' also found that the most important form of professional development is opportunity to learn new technical skills, followed by the ability to take on more responsibility; developing soft skills; and obtaining professional certifications.

Clearly, to effectively attract software developers will require clear communication about the potential to advance once a candidate decides to join an organisation. Employers will also have to stress their ability to provide a good work-life balance, but competing on compensation alone will probably not be a sustainable attraction strategy. 

activate your brand

Articulating a compelling EVP is essential to building a strong employer brand that resonates with candidates, but activating the brand and reaching the target audience is also critical. This requires advocacy from a number of constituents, including current and former employees, suppliers and customers, and even silver medalists and other passed-over applicants. This is why creating a superior candidate experience is also critically important to winning developers.

Activation also requires identifying the channels that will reach the biggest developer communities. Fortunately, there are many with global audiences; some are very much dedicated to only developers, while others are sub-sections of larger communities. For example, StackOverflowGitHub and HackerNews are three well-visited sites where programmers congregate. And then some general interest online sites such as MeetupReddit and Discord offer groups specifically for developers. All of these sites offer potential opportunities to attract technical talent.

build a marketing engine

An attraction strategy can be greatly enhanced with an effective recruitment marketing engine. The use of an inbound methodology – engaging and delighting in addition to attracting – helps to build stronger relationships with developers even if they are not hired or if they opt for roles with other organisations. Because these types of workers often seek projects and roles that expose them to new skills and technologies, they tend to have shorter tenures at companies. One LinkedIn study found that the software industry had the highest turnover (13.2%) among all sectors – which means developing a long-term relationship with developers can be beneficial to hiring organisations.

To do so, companies should continually nurture job seekers, even after a role has been filled. This can be done through enrolling them into a private talent pool, staying in contact through regular content distribution or alerting them to job openings even if they are passive candidates. Increasingly companies are leveraging talent marketing as a way to fill their talent pipeline, and such practices would be especially effective when it comes to developer skills. 

Hiring software developers will continue to be challenging for most companies in the near future. It’s one reason why salaries for these roles continued to climb in 2020, despite the record unemployment numbers worldwide, according to Dice. Even so, companies can improve their chances of acquiring great developer talent by adhering to a strong strategy of attracting nurturing and delighting their target recruits. 

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